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Lakers - Spurs Preview: Reality Check

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Apr 11, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw (not pictured) during the second half at the AT&T Center. The Lakers won 98-84. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE
Apr 11, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw (not pictured) during the second half at the AT&T Center. The Lakers won 98-84. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers face the San Antonio Spurs for the 2nd time in less than a week. The first meeting went far better than anybody could possibly have imagined. Metta World Peace was the superstar scorer, Andrew Bynum was a veritable black hole of rebounding prowess, and the entire Lakers team made the Spurs look every bit like a gimmicky team whose gimmick doesn't work on our massive roster. The Lakers gave up just one offensive rebound in that game, a stat that only happens once or twice per season, league-wide. All these factors, plus a few more, led to an epic beat-down of an opponent who's been playing great basketball of late, on their home court.

It was a fantastic win, the best of the season for the Lakers, but it was also filled with all kinds of elements that may or may not have been lucky outcomes. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that most of the outcomes were lucky. MWP probably won't score close to 30 points tonight. Andrew Bynum probably won't secure 30 rebounds. The Lakers probably won't hold Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to single digits. These were all weird individual outcomes that explain what happened on the night. The Lakers were awesome in last week's contest, but they were also lucky.

Tonight, we might get some insight into the luck to awesomeness ratio. Is Bynum uniquely suited, with his massive wingspan and superb agility, to destroy the Spurs offense from the inside out, reaching over DeJuan Blair and going around Tim Duncan to secure any and all rebounds? Are the Spurs exactly the kind of team against whom Metta World Peace's strength is an unstoppable asset in the post? Even if Bynum's boards decrease, or MWP's points decrease, the reasons why they were able to do what they did last week might still be true. If they are, the Lakers have a very, very good chance of being victorious tonight. If they were truly freakish occurrences, we may be in for a long night.

Kobe Bryant is still out, so this contest is a mano-for-mano rematch of the previous contest. Tonight, we get to find out what was real about that game, and what wasn't.